JEDDAH: Military chiefs and protest leaders in Sudan signed a final power-sharing agreement in Khartoum on Saturday that paves the way for elections and a civilian government.
Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, who is known as Hemedti, deputy head of the transitional military council, and opposition alliance representative Ahmad Al-Rabie were the main signatories.
Crowds gathered outside the Friendship Hall convention center where the signing ceremony took place, singing, waving flags and flashing peace signs in celebration.
The ceremony was witnessed by African Union and Ethiopian mediators, who helped broker the deal, and observers from Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the UAE.
The agreement was “the first building block that will contribute to establishing a state with a strong economy and security,” said Adel Al-Jubeir, the minister of state for foreign affairs, who represented the Kingdom.
“Saudi Arabia has supported, and still supports, all that guarantees Sudan’s security,” Al-Jubeir said. “The stability of Sudan is an important part of the region’s stability, and it contributes to international peace and security.”
The agreement establishes a sovereign council consisting of five members selected by the military, five chosen by the opposition coalition, and one agreed upon by both sides. The military will be represented by military council chief Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan, his deputy Hemedti, Lt. Gen. Yasser Al-Atta and two others to be announced later.
Military chiefs have ruled Sudan since April, when they deposed Omar Bashir after 30 years as president following months of protests against his rule. Hemedti commands the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, some of whose members have been accused of involvement in killing protesters.
After the signing ceremony, Sudanese civilians were jubilant. “This is the biggest celebration I have ever seen in my country. We have a new Sudan,” said Saba Mohammed, 37, waving a flag.
At Khartoum’s central market, shoppers and traders said they hoped a civilian government would help put food on the table. “Everybody is happy now,” said Ali Yusef, 19, a university student who also works in the market. “We were under the control of the military for 30 years but today we are leaving this behind us and moving toward civilian rule.”
Vegetable trader Ali Issa Abdel Momen said: “I’m 72, and for 30 years under Bashir I had nothing to feel good about. Now … I am starting to breathe.”
The celebrations extended beyond Sudan. In Saudi Arabia, Mostafa Said Mostafa, a Sudanese pilgrim who has just performed Hajj, told Arab News it was “a wonderful end to the revolution and struggles of the Sudanese people over nearly a year.”
Another pilgrim, Dhia Ahmed Wada’a, said the day deserved to be celebrated. “Our prayers during Hajj have been answered,” he said. “Sudan has exited the dark tunnel toward civilian government.”